Injuries of foster children investigated
By MELISSA VARGAS
Star-Telegram staff writer
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- Police are investigating April attacks on two
severely disabled children who were under the care of home health nurses
in a foster home.
A 1-year-old girl was stabbed in the eye several times with a sharp
object, and a 6-year-old was hit in the face, according to a police report.
Police have identified several "persons of interest" who were in Jeri
Copeland's foster home when the abuse occurred but have not named any
suspects, investigator Larry Irving said.
However, a licensed vocational nurse in the home when the attacks
occurred has been suspended from his job.
The nurse is also under investigation in connection with injuries to a
12-year-old Granbury child, who has the mental capacity of an infant. In
February, the boy suffered second-degree burns to his inner thighs when
the nurse gave him a shower in hot water, said the child's mother, Jean
Beasley said she didn't contact police because she believed that it was
an accident, but she did alert the nurse's employer, Epic Med Staff.
After being contacted by Copeland, North Richland Hills police are
investigating that incident as well, officials said Friday.
CPS, Copeland disagree
In the meantime, Child Protective Services and Copeland, along with her
employer, Lutheran Social Services, are pointing fingers over who should
have conducted a background check on the nurses. They also disagree on
whether Copeland knew she wasn't allowed to use the nurses as substitute
caregivers for the children.
CPS concluded June 11 that Copeland didn't abuse the children. But the
agency is removing all four of them from her care, saying that her
absence resulted in a child being abused. The last child is scheduled to
be removed Monday, officials said.
Copeland, a foster parent for 17 years, said she did nothing wrong and
doesn't understand why CPS is punishing her for what she contends a
"I have taken in 75 of these sick children over the years," she said.
"It has become my life, and I love them dearly."
Injuries days apart
Copeland said the abuse at her home began April 9. The 1-year-old began
screaming in her room, and Copeland and a nurse rushed in to find the
male nurse in the doorway. The infant was lying in bed with blood coming
from her ear and pooling in her eye.
An emergency room doctor misdiagnosed the injury, saying that the
child's eardrum had burst and that a blood vessel in her eye popped as
she cried in pain, Copeland said. The doctor stated that there were no
signs of trauma, Copeland said.
The child was sent home with a prescription and instructions to see a
pediatrician in a few days. On April 12, during the pediatric visit,
they were referred to an ophthalmologist, who determined that the girl's
eye had been punctured four times with a tool used to prick the skin to
Despite surgery to repair her eye lens, she has permanent damage,
Copeland, who then suspected that the male nurse had hurt the girl,
called to tell the him to go home for the day. That's when a second
nurse at the house told her that a 6-year-old looked as though she had
struck herself in the eye during a seizure.
When Copeland arrived home, the child's eye was ringed black and blue,
and a lump was forming on her forehead, she said.
CPS began investigating Copeland's foster home, in the 7000 block of
Briley Drive, records show.
The investigation found that Lutheran Social Services, which oversees
Copeland's foster home, failed to abide by its own policy of running
criminal background checks on nurses. At least one of the home health
nurses tending the children at Copeland's home had a criminal record,
public records show.
On July 1, CPS will begin requiring all volunteers or contractors who
perform foster-parent functions to undergo a background check,
spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said.
The investigation also revealed that Copeland often left the children
alone with the nurses, a practice Copeland said she and other foster
parents have never been instructed against.
The CPS investigation also found that:
Copeland failed to use prudent judgment when she used members of the
nursing staff to fulfill her own responsibilities.
Lutheran failed to report the child's April 9 injury to CPS within 24 hours.
Confusion over rules
Charlene Hoobler, Lutheran's vice president of child and family
services, said she didn't know that Copeland's actions violated CPS rules.
Leaving children with home-care nurses is common in foster homes with
special-needs children. It gives caregivers breaks to get groceries and
other necessities, Hoobler said.Hoobler said CPS had told her that the
company Copeland hired to provide nurses was responsible for conducting
background checks. "There are general inconsistencies in the messages we
get from Licensing," she said. "This is the department being under a lot
of pressure, trying to point all the blame away from themselves by
citing people for things they never used to cite them for."
After the investigation of Copeland's home began, Hoobler asked CPS'
deputy commissioner for licensing, Diana Spicer, whether nurses could
count as substitute caregivers.
She was told that someone would get back to her with an answer, CPS
officials said. Hoobler says she is still waiting for a response.
Gonzales, the CPS spokeswoman, said Lutheran has the right to appeal
CPS' findings, but the organization had not done so as of Friday.
Dallas-based Epic Med Staff suspended the male nurse, company owner Trey
Price said. But he doesn't believe that his employee caused the
injuries. Epic Med Staff performed a criminal background on the nurse in
November 2006, just before he was hired, and it came back clean, Price said.
A public record search this week, however, revealed that the nurse was
arrested in 2005 on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance.
The case was dismissed, but he was ordered to pay court costs, records
show. The nurse is not being named because he has not been arrested or
charged with a crime.
Price also said he was not aware of the nurse being under police
investigation for any other allegations of abuse, including in Granbury.
Beasley, the Granbury mother, now believes that her son was also injured
by the nurse.
She said she told Epic Med Staff about the incident immediately and
asked that the nurse not be sent to her home again.
Price said Friday that if the company was told about the incident, an
internal investigation must have been done and the incident must have
been ruled an accident.
"This is a pretty terrible thing to do even if it was an accident,"
Beasley said, noting that her child had quarter-size blisters on his
inner thighs. "I don't think he should be nursing any kids."
Drug tests not required
The Texas Board of Nurse Examiners does comprehensive background checks
through the FBI on all license applicants, but it does not require drug
tests, said the board's general counsel, Dusty Johnston.
The male nurse's license is listed as valid until November 2008 and does
not reflect any disciplinary action, according to the board's Web site.
Johnston could not say whether the nurse had been or is being
investigated because that is not public information, he said.
Melissa Vargas, 817-685-3888
CURRENTLY CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES VIOLATES MORE CIVIL RIGHTS ON A
DAILY BASIS THEN ALL OTHER AGENCIES COMBINED INCLUDING THE NATIONAL
SECURITY AGENCY/CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WIRETAPPING PROGRAM....
CPS Does not protect children...
It is sickening how many children are subject to abuse, neglect and even
killed at the hands of Child Protective Services.
every parent should read this .pdf from
connecticut dcf watch...
Number of Cases per 100,000 children in the US
These numbers come from The National Center on
Child Abuse and Neglect in Washington. (NCCAN)
Recent numbers have increased significantly for CPS
*Perpetrators of Maltreatment*
Physical Abuse CPS 160, Parents 59
Sexual Abuse CPS 112, Parents 13
Neglect CPS 410, Parents 241
Medical Neglect CPS 14 Parents 12
Fatalities CPS 6.4, Parents 1.5
Imagine that, 6.4 children die at the hands of the very agencies that
are supposed to protect them and only 1.5 at the hands of parents per
100,000 children. CPS perpetrates more abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse
and kills more children then parents in the United States. If the
citizens of this country hold CPS to the same standards that they hold
parents too. No judge should ever put another child in the hands of ANY
government agency because CPS nationwide is guilty of more harm and
death than any human being combined. CPS nationwide is guilty of more
human rights violations and deaths of children then the homes from which
they were removed. When are the judges going to wake up and see that
they are sending children to their death and a life of abuse when
children are removed from safe homes based on the mere opinion of a
bunch of social workers.
BE SURE TO FIND OUT WHERE YOUR CANDIDATES STANDS ON THE ISSUE OF
REFORMING OR ABOLISHING CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES ("MAKE YOUR CANDIDATES
TAKE A STAND ON THIS ISSUE.") THEN REMEMBER TO VOTE ACCORDINGLY IF THEY
ARE "FAMILY UNFRIENDLY" IN THE NEXT ELECTION...